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Toyota 15, Nhtsa 9, Nasa 6, Us 4, United States 2, Michigan 2, Honda 2, Dr. Martinez 2, Pacific 1, New York 1, Stephen 1, Sherlock Holmes 1, Barbara 1, Jeremy 1, Lahood 1, Unscientific 1, N.y. 1, C-span 1, Alt 1, Malpractice 1,
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  CSPAN    [untitled]    [curator: unknown description]  

    April 7, 2010
    5:30 - 6:00am EDT  

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in this case, they have transition from a mechanical into an electronic vehicle. the agency was under resource to for that skill set. >> we're talking about federal bn rkbgrnr we have divided the lines along territories -- a long time zones. east coast, central time zone. mountain pacific. you can send us twitter messages. go to twitter.com c-span. we'll read those. what is the message when it comes to the fine? that nhtsa is trying to send? se of death under
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age 34 in this country is an auto crash. it is the leading cause of death on the job, spine injuries, head injuries, 94% of the injuries. you get a chance to see the scope of this problem verses the resources you have. one reason the other departments are bigger is they are running organizations like the faa and railroads. it is something we need to look at in terms of -- the safety organizations are an investment. when it comes to giving money and resources, we look at them as regulatory agencies. that is not always the case. speed limits, child seat laws -- these respect all the people out there. even though it is a small amount of money, having the largest fine ever levied can send a message not just to toyota but around the world about how we are going to enforce our system.
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the american system versus the european system -- we rely on you to tell us the truth. in other countries to do tight specifications. you bring me a vehicle. we crash it and approve that type of vehicle. you may treat it a little bit. here, you self certify. i have the right as the administrator to take any car off your line at any time. if it does not meet standards, i can shut down your factory. in a capitalist marketplace that is a powerful tool. the recall apparatus is powerful to. they're saying they believe toyota did not tell the truth. you have to have that integrity for the system to work. >> a phone call from new york -- barbara. you are up. >> that you for taking my call. i have two questions. it seems there were sudden acceleration charges made against bmw a few years ago. i do not remember them being
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treated the same way toyota is being treated. my second question is -- as i understand it, it has not unproven that there is anything wrong with the cars yet. with nasa and the national academy of sciences -- if they do not find anything, will there be an apology made? will the fine be refunded? thank you for taking my call. >> that is a great and complex question. i will try to dissected into its parts. i will take the last one first. it is not just a toyota issue, with respect to the complaints about sudden unintended acceleration. it goes back to the '80s. everybody remembers the old audis and the mechanisms of acceleration were different then. they got outside experts sort of like that are doing now. the developed something called the silver book. it is a comprehensive look of
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what was going on in those situations. there were never able to find a defect with the vehicle. they did find that many of these were caused by driver error. i think there was a sort of systematic feeling at nhtsa that most of these things were driver error until proven otherwise. with respect to the question about toyota and bmw -- up until recently, another manufacturer was in the lead in complaints about sudden unintended acceleration. the agency has been looking at all manufacturers relative to these complaints. the problem that they have with toyota -- one of the problems -- is that this problem has existed for a long time. other countries have had recalls of disinformation. information was not shared by toyota to the agency. i think they regard that with some umbrage. with respect to whether or not
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there is a problem -- that is a difficult one to parse out. that is why nasa has been called in -- why they will continue to look at other experts in the electronics field and try to figure out what is going on. i am relatively certain it will result in some design changes and some software issues and hardware issues, but we do not know what those are yet. >> what do you mean by design changes? >> this has been a traumatic thing for this car maker. the other car makers are looking closely at what is going on. the mere fact that this is causing such a tumultuous reaction around the world will cause them to improve the systems in whatever way they can. i have no knowledge about how they are going to do that. it may be proprietary. i'm sure there will be improvement as a result. >> first off, they are not going to apologize to toyota.
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the fine is for not giving us the information. the system relies on a certain amount of trust and integrity. that is nothing to do with intended acceleration. the second thing is that we have really seen this car become an electrical vehicle. i think you're going to see more people begin to look at how the systems integrator. you will have more focus. will probably see improvements made because of that. we can win if everyone focuses on doing the right thing. we brought in nasa back when the air bag issue occurred. remember? the air bags were too powerful in how the exploded. it was not well controlled. in those days, the propellant for airbags was rocket fuel. you literally had to be a rocket scientist to help us figure it out. in those days, the nasa administrator was dan golden, who worked on air bags in a former life. it worked out well.
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we learned a lot. the agency is doing the right thing to bring all hands on deck to understand the solution. the caller is correct. no one is sure what it is. we may learn something from this. >> it is not unprecedented that nasa and other agencies would be called in? >> we have done it in the past. it is a good idea for nhtsa to say there are skills and expertise that may go beyond what we have currently experienced. we think it is important enough for our mission to go to the table and help. >> thank you for taking my call. i have a 2005 honda element that lost its steering. i have found there is a breakdown between honda manufacturing and customers. on the manufacturing does not have any record of the things i have taken back in. i have questions. is there a breakdown in communications between at the
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manufacturing company? how do i get anyone to listen to me. i need some help with this car. >> i am not familiar with the latest. one thing you can do is file a complaint on nhtsa, on line. you can also call their 800 number. that is where a lot of the complaints come from. about 30% of the investigations come from the investigators going through and looking for trends. i would ask you to go on the web -- www. nhtsa.gov. i find the agency is interested in what is coming from the field. >> i would echo that. part of the problem, as an individual, when you are making a complaint, is that you are one of thousands of people making complaints. they may be different
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complaints. the agency takes the seriously. i think it is higher than 30%. i think most investigations are opened as a result of complaints that are issued. >> i thought it was. >> the caller should absolutely go to the website or call the 800 number and log the complaint. part of the problem is that many of the complaints that come in our vehicles that did not perform. they are lemons. there is no systematic defect. it is not an unreasonable risk. the cannot do anything about that. it is not the agency's job to intervene between a customer and a manufacturer or a service center. >> what happens when you make a complaint? what do they do with that information? >> having filed a complaint myself, i did not get a response. having been on the other side -- >> when did you file a complaint? >> i had a problem.
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i had a sudden unintended acceleration problem -- >> recently? >> yes. with a non-toyota vehicle, a german manufacturer. i am not sure it was not my fault. i grabbed the floor mat and put the car on neutral. i took it true -- i took the cruise control lever out of position. i turn the car off. it has not happened again. i told the agency about it so they could lock it in and have the data. if they do not have the data, they will never find the trend. >> what happens then? you make a complaint. what happens from the agency side? where does it go? >> there are a couple of ways it is dealt with. there is a group of investigators that bring these complaints in. there was a database set up in 2003. it is an early warning database. it gets all the field reports,
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warranty claims, customer complaints, log into a large database. there are statisticians that look for trends. if it is a random complained that does not fit a trend you may not get a call. if they are seeing a trend -- maybe 10 complaints or maybe 30 -- they will start to call people and find out if there are similarities. they may ask for their vehicles. they may ask for their history. they do look into those things. >> a senator who has been a critic of toyota and nhtsa put out a statement saying that this should be a warning that nhtsa spends more time -- more time given to consumer complaints verses industry defense of those complaints. is that what happens? >> i never had anybody who felt they were trying to side with industry. they are mission oriented. it is good to go to work and
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think "i have saved some lives." you have organized groups of people who have cases. they will go and do press conferences. all of a sudden you get a surge of complaints from that local area. they go to the database and say there is a surge in complaints. the thing we have to be able to do is maintain some scientific purity. you have to be a credible, honest broker. you are always looking for the facts and the data. sometimes, if people have a concern or believe in something to be true, they get very unhappy when we do not agree with it. frankly, the facts are not there yet. given the resources, we have to look at the biggest bang for the buck in protecting the public. investigators are like sherlock holmes. i have seen them kicking tires and asking people in the garage because they have heard something they think may be plausible. when they see a lot of complaints they do not suddenly
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run out and recall. they do it preliminary investigation. there is enough data for us to allocate resources and do a preliminary investigation. the contact car companies for more information. when there is enough concern, they raise it to an engineering analysis. they are clever in how they can replicate some of the things that occur. with toyota, the fact that we are seeing the same sort of issues from other cars from other manufacturers makes you think it could be it is not a floor mat. it could be that there is something in the software or electromagnetic, as nasa is looking at. . . then you move toward the opportunity to say we want to have a recall. that is a very long process from the very beginning to the end.
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what the manufactures will often do is intervene early and do a voluntary recall so you can who are at risk. not just the people who suffered an injury so far. it is an interesting process. it is a very science-driven one where you find if you disregard something because it is not fitting the facts then you could be labeleded a ignoring the industry. that's not what i found. they actually like to go out and get the problem softed. >> we want to take your twitter messages. if you want to send us a twit, go to twitter.com. the hand sl c-span. jeremy? go ahead. >> i just have two quick questions to ask you. the last question is could some
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of this be because of subpar parts coming from the asian markets? the japanese steel is not like american steel. >> do you know? >> i don't have the answer to how this has affected the market outside the united states. i would imagine that what's happening in the united states is only a reflection of what might be happening around the world. with the degree of enthusiasm by congress and everybody else around this. if it is a systemic problem it could affect their global sales. this is not a problem of replacement parts. the caller's question about parts, you know, vehicles are assembled from the parts of a lot of the suppliers. the o.e.m., the original
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manufacturers who assemble these vehicles look for suppliers that will give them the best deal. the ones most compatible with their existing systems. a car really is an amalgamation of many different factors. i'm quite sure that the manufacturers are looking very closely to their suppliers as to . >> help me ur >> i am from michigan. i appreciate c-span, and i appreciate the candor of dr. martinez. my question has to do with the overreliance on centers anymore electronic components. what about the effectiveness of some of these components, and that drivers can manually override many of these problems when they occur.
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are you looking into those sources were the driver has some kind of fail-safe ability to control the car when electronics kind of go haywire? >> that is one of the things that has been raised dairy high on the radar screen. this is not like a computer or you could press ctrl, alt, delete, you have to provide integrity in safety for the drivers, passengers, and the people around them. again, that is a good thing. the move about centers and putting them in has made a big difference. people always ask, what is the safest car? it used to be the one that hits you best. it is about the car being nibbled to adapt. -- being able to adapt. going forward, we're going to
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avoid the crash altogether, which is the biggest bang for the buck. historically, car companies have been built on mechanical engineering. the airbag sensor was a tube with a ball bearing in it. if that ball bearing rolled to the end of the tube, it closed a switch and was very unsophisticated. it concerns people, size, and have the air bag go off at different levels. how you integrate all of that together and prevent any sort of adverse effect? the original manufacturer is working hard on that now. you get all of the performance in the but you preserve the bad outcome and it is able to perform in all kinds of situations. th>> the electronic systems has
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saved thousands of lives. the control systems were being deployed -- we reduced crashes by 65% by introducing systems that keep vehicles on the road. when you leave the road, they are a form of injury. if you need to slam on the brakes and stop, the card text the rate and depth -- and the car detects the rat rate -- the rate and epth. -- and depth.
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it is a great question that the caller asks, and it is a philosophical question. are you smarter, faster, and more capable than centers and computers that will do that even if you can't? >> can you hear me? >> ago ahead. >> your colleague has known me for 27 years. you know stephen, don't you? >> yes. >> he can verify to you that i am a very credible person. i happen to know the answer to the whole question. it is something that very few people in the world know. and i will give it to you, it will take about one minute. i would like to call you tomorrow and give you more. it will take maybe half an hour to explain the whole thing.
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i will give you the summary. >> is this related to auto safety? >> it is related to the toyota thing. i am asking you not to judge it or market. >> behalf to hurry up, harry. go, please. >> i will give you the truth. listen, you remember that the toyota castle burned down in 1995? in 1992, d remember that? >> get your point, we have here from all different places. >> it will take 60 seconds, and if you cut me off, you will be doing a disservice to journalism. the castle burned down in 1992. the party put a nuclear weapon under osaka, japan in 1995
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that killed 6000 people. that is why toyota is deliberately doing this. the government is deliberately doing this. >> think you very much for your call. >> i own two german cars, a ford pickup, and i have had problems with several of those, too. i am concerned -- it is my understanding that one of the problems that we had, the woman that was on one of the congressional inquiries into up where the black box indicated she pressed on the accelerator and not a break. one of the other ones that i understand as far as the sticky accelerator, there is a manufacturer in michigan that is
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developing or producing some of these things for the area. -- for toyota. many of the manufacturers get their parts from all over the place. i real concern here is, why doesn't the news media broadcasts all of the information concerning -- or even the safety board, broadcast all of the information as it relates to some of these situations? if you look on the internet, you can see where recalls have been for air bags, for all kinds of things. it almost seems to me like there may be a little bit of a political environment against toyota. i don't know if you could answer that or would like to, but i would appreciate something. >> it is hard to understand all of the motivations that have gone on with this entire thing.
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the severity of the issue is really what drove the agency to take a proactive role. secretary lahood been very forceful in his role. i have been handed to him. the agency have had -- has had very good leadership. i seriously do not believe that they are going to be driven by the political wind. having said that, congress provides oversight for the executive branch. every congressman represents a district, and they have constituents that have very special interests. jobs, other things. when we look at the rhetoric surrounding this issue, and a lot of it is unscientific, a lot of it is driven by something other than the evidence i would agree, you have to take into account. i don't believe the agency will get distracted too much by that.
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i am sure that the investigators that are the boots on the ground will not be distracted by that. the media, however, does follow the story. the story is written other than those that are tasked to solve the problem. >> there are a lot of stories every day, and in this case, there is a human face on it. the thing that attracts our controversy. we have to try to make sure to look beyond that and look at the data itself in the science. what you mentioned about the black box is of interest. i petitioned the agency to put in black boxes, and the doctor helped remove that forward. we're emergency physicians, we see patients.
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if you practice the way we investigate, people would slap us with malpractice. we don't want to guess, we want to know. instead of looking back for years and years, we look at it permission to speed up and facilitate our ability to investigate. there will kids get marks, things like that. cars actually have computers and side that can tell you what is happening and with the reels -- wheels. those sort of things mean we don't guess when we can know. we can see that moving forward. you see a lot of these investigations become a little more definite as opposed to us trying to discuss what happened. >> what is the agency need to do that type of investigation? the budget for 2011 was $867
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million. is that adequate to do what your saying? -- what you are saying? >> allot of it gets passed to the states because they have very active programs, drunk driving programs, that kind of thing. what i have been concerned about has not arrived in nhtsa over time. they're probably a little bit behind. going back tenor 15 years ago, we ask for a lot of additional people. the idea was to balance the budget and there is such a thing as investment. we really need to focus on that.
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how do you look at the centers and how these things come together. there are attempts that have been pushed back a bit. as we pointed out, there were recalls and other countries. we did not hear about it in our market. we have just gone through it very difficult time in the industry with indeed have a global reach, and we need to be able to hold all the people accountable. >> one of our viewers ask how a person can listen to to federal oversight. go to c-span.org. if you're interested in watching them -- n.y., your next.
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>> i think having doctors as the head of nhtsa, it is unfortunate that that is not occurring now. the problem is, we have almost 100,000 people and 50 million serious injuries around the world. having medical doctors as the head is very important. [inaudible] i think that the problem here really is a matter of information. i know that dr. martinez really worked on passage of something in 2006 requiring